I’m a believer—a Christian. I’m a “lifer” and an insider. I was born into a Christian home. I have Christian parents. I’ve gone to church all my life.
I’m also a doubter.
Over the years I’ve had many troubling questions: How do I know God exists? Can I be sure Christianity is right? How can there be an all-loving and all-powerful God when there is so much evil in the world? Can I really trust that the Bible is true?
For most of my life I’ve walked in a place of doubt-plagued faith. And while I’ve never stopped believing, I have stopped pretending that I have all the answers. I’ve come to believe that not all doubt is an enemy of faith. Sincere doubts can be an indispensable part of each person’s faith journey.
If we never doubt, we never question. If we never question, we never change. And if we never change, we never grow.
Just before I graduated from seminary, I had a conversation with my 80-year-old grandfather that changed how I think about doubt.
Poppaw had called to congratulate me on my upcoming graduation. He asked about the kids. I asked if he had been fishing. He talked about getting the old boat in the river. And then the conversation took an unexpected turn.
“Son [my grandfather called me son], I need to ask you a question.” He paused. “Can I trust the Bible? I mean, does the Bible I read in English say the same thing as the original Bible says?”
Up until this point I thought my doubts were a sign that my faith was weak. Frankly, that was part of my reason for going to seminary in the first place. I thought if I could just accumulate enough information, then all my doubts would be crushed under the weight of overwhelming information. But at the end of his faith journey here was Poppaw—one of the most faithful Christ-followers I have ever known—struggling to believe despite his doubt.
That day I began to wonder if I had misdiagnosed the problem. Maybe my doubts weren’t the problem. Maybe they were part of the solution.